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Transform Your Marketing: Manage by Portfolio

I like going into stores and I like to shop. The other day, I went to a popular brand’s retail store. I had looked at their products online, yet seeing them in the store was so much better. And talking to the store associates was fun, informative and interesting. I doubt I’m the only one that feels this way, so why don’t more brands encourage this behavior?

Usually, the problem is with structure of the organization. Digital, CRM, email, and online are on one side, then store ops and merchandising are on other. But, we know from analysis that of all web customer sessions that start in digital, half end up in store making a purchase. With the ease of online shopping, there is a natural inclination to research online, but check out the items in person, to see how it fits or feels. From the customer perspective, this journey from online to in-store is all one brand, and should be speaking with the same messages and the same voice. For many marketers, this is not the case.

The more integration between the two sides of the organization, the better. Customers will have a more seamless experience, and marketers will be able to track performance on a more holistic level. How to fix the silos depends on the organization – to make this transformation truly work, it needs to happen at a cultural level. Many legacy organizations are store-focused, and see digital as a necessary add-on to their core business, while e-commerce organizations see digital as king. Marketers need to stop focusing on channels, and recognize that the customer is their asset. Once the organization gets over that hurdle, the marketer can then start the transformation from within.

We see many organizations structured around channel-based marketing, with a team on digital, a team on email, a team on store ops, a team on CRM, etc. However, one of our clients has turned this thinking on its side, managing by portfolio rather than channel. Teams of marketers are assigned stages in the lifecycle, like prospect, repurchase, and Best Customer. The team gets a budget for their portfolio of customers, with the objective and incentive focused on moving customers along the lifecycle. The marketers then get to set how to spend their budget and which channels they will invest in. The resulting message is relevant and the experience is seamless for each stage in the lifecycle.

As with most transformations, this way of thinking won’t happen overnight. However, focusing first on the customer, then the strategy, and finally the execution, will make this transformation smooth and revenue-producing.

  • Think about the customer first. Who are your customers? How do they shop? What incentives will move them along the lifecycle? Combining customer data from all your touchpoints will give you a holistic view of your customers, so you can analyze their behavior and think about how to market to them across all channels.
  • Determine strategy based on insights. Use the holistic data you have to figure out the best way to move customers along the lifecycle. You can control the combination of channels, messages, and incentives that get customers to take the next step. Get all of your channels coordinated, and create consistent, seamless messaging.   
  • Execution: follow through on that plan. Now that you have the data-based strategy, you can start to figure out how to execute against the plan. The last piece of the puzzle is technology. People are buying the latest technology or point solution, then figuring out how to work it into their marketing strategy. Marketing tech stacks are growing, but much of that technology is going under used. Rather than just buying technology for the sake of having it, first create a solid plan that is thought through, articulated, and data-driven, then fit the technology into that plan.

Analyzing and executing a plan based on customer data will create personalization and consistency across all touchpoints. You need the right team managing by portfolio, the right intelligence from your customer data, THEN the right technology to execute across all channels. Following these steps in this order to transform your marketing organization will take time, but you will benefit from a growing customer count and increased incremental revenue.